The whole point is that Northern Ireland would be treated separately from the rest of the United Kingdom. That damages the Union.
The withdrawal agreement limits our ability to have a future trade arrangement that suits us because, as the EU has made clear, that agreement will become the basis of the future trade arrangement and that includes keeping us within a customs union and the single market. I do not believe that that is good for the United Kingdom.
People ask, “What is the alternative?” and they say that the EU will not move because there is no alternative. First, saying that the other side are not going to move so we have to give in to them, is the wrong way to approach negotiations. Secondly, there are alternatives; there are alternatives in place. We collect taxes every day across the Irish border. Michel Barnier has promised us and the Irish Government that, in the event of no deal, he has alternatives. He has a study group working on it. He will have paperless checks and decentralised monitoring of trade—the very thing we have said is possible. Also, on the political declaration, the EU has said that there are particular alternatives along the Irish border that will be included in those discussions. My answer to the EU is that, if you have something in place at present, if there is something you will put in place in the event of no deal, and if there is something you have promised to discuss in future, put it in the deal now and then we can move on.
There is an alternative—a good alternative that will benefit everyone. It is the Malthouse compromise: a future trade arrangement that is tariff and quota free, which will suit business; a protocol that will guarantee there are no checks on the Irish border, which will suit the Irish Government; and trade facilitation measures, which are already in place and which the EU has already said it will consider and put in place. Regulatory equivalents for meat products and so on are already in current trade agreements and there are guarantees for citizens who are living in this country from the EU. All those good things should be included.